HARTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) – Seventy-eight exotic animals were killed in a fire in Hartsville over the weekend.
Holly Sellers owns Scrutes N’Scales Furry Tales, and told News13 she had just paid off the loan she took out to open the sanctuary when the fire happened.
“It was my dream. It was my passion,” Sellers said about the sanctuary. “It was all my hard work. Every penny I made would go into this,” she continued. “The fire was horrible. It was the worst thing ever.”
Sellers said she found out about a fire through a phone call from her friend.
“The barn was up in flames, and we were having to hurry up and get the ducks, goats, chickens, and pigs all free from the fire, and we luckily were able to do so,” she recalled.
Sellers said fire officers told her the source of the fire was most likely a heat lamp.
“Anybody that owns reptiles knows that heat lamps and anything that has heat is such a risk,” she said. “I did everything in my power to make sure this barn would be safe, and unfortunately something was overlooked and things can just happen.”
Sellers said the sanctuary was home to rehabbed animals, and animals owned by people who could not afford to take care of their exotic animals.
“The species were anything from small animals like hedgehogs, flying squirrels, sugar gliders,” she said. “Also some of the reptile species like snakes, lizards, tegus.”
Sellers said there was an alligator in a pond behind the barn that also did not survive.
“So far we found around 20 to 30 remains of the animals,” Sellers said. “And we’ve just been gathering those so we can give them the proper burial that they deserve.”
The animals were part of a program Sellers promoted to educated students in school on exotic animals.
“I hope that this will be the start of something new and even better,” she said looking at the rubble.
Sellers said there was more than $12 thousand in damages, but she hopes to rebuild the sanctuary.